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NZOG closes in on 50% of Cue Energy

New Zealand Oil & Gas has lifted its stake in Melbourne-based Cue Energy Resources to 41.55 percent amid signs it has picked up the 12 percent of Cue owned by Zeta Resources, a vehicle associated with NZOG director Duncan Saville.

Cue is subject to a hostile takeover bid from NZOG, which has an offer open to acquire up to 100 percent of Cue shares at 10 Australian cents a share until this Friday, March 27, although it can close the offer once it reaches a 50 percent controlling shareholding in the Australian minnow, which owns 5 percent of the Maari oil and gas field, offshore Taranaki, adjacent to the Tui field, where NZOG has a 27.5 percent interest. Cue also has an interest in the nearby Manaia prospect.

NZOG first bought a 19.99 percent shareholding in Cue from New Zealand-owned Todd Energy before Christmas and appears to have picked up the remaining 7 percent held by Todd and, now, the 12 percent owned by Zeta, with acceptance from a range of other smaller shareholders also trickling in.

While Cue directors have urged shareholders not to sell, saying the bid undervalues Cue's assets, the NZOG move is consistent with expectations that plunging global oil prices would spur ownership rationalisations in the oil and gas sector.